If you have purchased real estate in the past few years, you have most certainly noticed that the process has become more complicated and lengthy. For commercial property, the process has gotten even tougher. One of the significant issues that has cropped up is the concern that a commercial property may have contaminated that could affect one’s health, and the older the structure the more likely that there are contaminates. The most common contaminants are asbestos and lead, but there are others that could be worse. Those of you who have lived in the area for several decades may recall the automotive battery recycling facility that existed, back in the ‘80s, east of Tecula. The individual who had the facility took no precautions when taking apart the batteries. Consequently, the soil, at the facility, became contaminated with lead and battery acid. When the authorities found out about it the site was closed down and it became known as a “Super Fund Site”. The site has been remediated but there are still over 1,300 Super Fund sites in the United States. The owner of this site fled the area and was apprehended, several years later, out west.
There are three types of environmental site assessment....commonly known as ESAs. A Phase 1 ESA essentially consists of a review of the public record in order to determine if there is any public information indicating that there has been contamination of the property and if it has been remediated. The downside of phase 1 is that it provides no conclusive evidence of no contamination. The only way to know for sure is by performing a Phase 2 ESA. When a Phase 2 ESA is performed and depending on the type of property involved, soil samples may be taken or portions of a structure may be removed or scraped. They are then analyzed in a laboratory. If everything comes back negative, then the sale is good to go. A few years ago a Phase 2 ESA was performed on the old veterinary clinic that was recently razed across from the Pizza Hut, on South Jackson. It turned out that the building had asbestos in the ceiling finish. That led to a Phase 3 ESA – remediation. The asbestos had to be removed before the building could be razed. All of these steps protected the purchaser and his lender and allowed the purchaser to proceed with the construction of the new restaurant. Bear in mind that environmental remediation falls under the auspices and guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. There are several environmental engineering companies in East Texas if you ever need assistance in evaluating a property. Better safe than sorry.
Mike McEwen is a real estate broker with over 28 years in the business.